Its name may also begin with a “B”– like “black”–but Bounce TV executive Will Packer warns viewers not to mistake his new network for BET. Bounce, he says, will be different.
Sure, its target audience is also African American, but Bounce distinguishes itself from Black Entertainment Television, Centric and TV One by its potential reach alone. When it debuts this fall, the Atlanta-based channel, which estimates it will reach 50% of US households at launch (and will grow as it establishes distribution deals like the recent one inked with Raycom Media), will be the first free broadcast network of its kind–a relief for those who can’t afford cable.
“We are working to make Bounce available to everyone,” says Packer, the network’s chief strategy and marketing officer, of the plans to broadcast programming on the digital signals of local television stations nationwide, which allows viewers free access to the content
Co-founded by civil rights leader Martin Luther King , III, former Atlanta mayor and U.S. ambassador Andrew Young Jr., one-time Turner Broadcasting exec Ryan Glover and others, the station–which is majority-owned and operated by African Americans–will provide “underserved audiences” with popular documentaries, free football and basketball games from the country’s largest black athletic conference and classic movies such as The Wiz, Do the Right Thing, Glory. Packer says Bounce will also offer their its target audience–ages 25-54–a strong lineup of original programming.
“We should start rolling out new shows within the next couple of years,” promises the successful producer, who will serve on a panel at this year’s BLACK ENTERPRISE Entrepreneurs Conference and who balances his network duties with those he has as co-founder and chairman of his own successful production company, Rainforest Films (Stomp the Yard, Obsessed and Takers).
But Bounce isn’t the only big project on the executive’s full plate. Packer and Rainforest partner Rob Hardy are also preparing to shoot their next movie: a film adaptation of funnyman Steve Harvey’s bestselling book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like A Man. Comedian Kevin Hart is one of the actors who has been confirmed for the project.
Going even further into the digital space, Rainforest has also launched a web site offering fans and wannabe actors an opportunity to appear in the comedy when cameras start rolling this summer. “Between now and May 13, fans can log on to faceofthefan.com/actlikealady and upload their videos to win a shot at two walk-on roles,” the Florida A&M grad explains. The film will be released next year. “Then between May 20th and the 28, folks can vote on which actors they want to see on the big screen,” says Packer.
Maintaining high web visibility, helping run a television network and producing must-see films? All in a day’s work for this award-winning businessman. And for those who desire to make their own mark in Hollywood, Packer offers this advice: “Define your own success,” he says. “Not every film is going to make a million dollars.” Second: “Remember that your dream is your dream. It may take awhile to convince someone else, namely financiers, to go along with it.” Not to worry, though: “It’s tough to get any film made in Hollywood–whether you’re black or white,” says Packer. “But if you’re able to create content that will make money, you will eventually find [someone to fund it.]” Lastly, he encourages, “lean on your faith.” “This is a superficial industry,” says the producer, “so it’s important to find and maintain your spiritual center. It will see you through every time.”
See Will Packer talk about “Money Making Opportunities in Entertainment” at this year’s Entrepreneurs Conference brought to you by BLACK ENTERPRISE. Join us May 22-25 for three days of entrepreneurial encouragement and enrichment. As an incentive, we’re offering you $200 off the cost of registration. Just visit blackenterprise.com/ec and use the code BEDG295.